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Teach English

Welcome to our school’s summer session and instructions for temporary and substitute teachers.

You know the philosophy...  we learn to talk by talking.  So it does not make sense to take a lot of notes in class and ask students to hold their questions until the end of the lecture.   The rule is 80% students, 20% teachers.   How do we put this in practice?   We need strategies.  Here are some guidelines to help you come up with your own style for engaging students.

Some principles about “How to reduce lecturing and increase student talking time”

1.  Don’t lecture.   Don’t present information in class.   Ask a question and let the students discover the answer in small groups.

2.  ask students to present information -- let the students lecture (for no more than 2 minutes) and ask the student  to assign work for pairs to complete
  EXAMPLE   “Here is how to use past perfect continuous.   Now I want you to write three sentences showing that you know how to use this form.   

3  the student is the boss.   The student decides what will be learned today.   The student takes responsibility for bringing questions and vocabulary and doubts into class.   The student can interrupt the teacher at any time (with the agreement of the other students).  The students can learn to put their requests into writing.

4.  ask students to change positions.  Make new pairs.  Some students sit in the same chair every day.  Move half of the students and then everyone will have a new partner.

5.  import students from other classes.   For five minutes ask another teacher to send a student over so the group can interview the person.  BETTER:  ask for two students from that class and SEND two students over t o the other class.   Then your class with 8 students is now two groups of 3 interviewing the two students from the other class.   The other two of your students who went away will return after 5 minutes with tales of what happened in the other class.   They can then go to the two groups of 3 students and tell what happened and ask “What did you talk about while I was gone?”   This process can be called CROSS POLLINATION because the students “infect” your class with information that YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT and it will create naturally a new vibration and focus in the classroom.

6.  The syllabus is a guide, it is not a requirement.   If your plan is to cover the past perfect and compare it to other tenses, but the students want vocabulary to use when they go to Key West this weekend, postpone the lesson.   Teach to the horizon.   Whatever the student is looking at will have greater retention than something you impose on the class.

7.  Are you mussolini?   sometimes it is important to be a dictator.   Sometimes it is better to be Putin and rule behind the scenes.  Appoint a deputy (one of the students) and tell the deputy what to do, then you will save your voice and you can walk around the room checking while the deputy is leading the class.

8.  Explain the chart of 15 sounds.  It is very helpful for students who come from Europe and Asia and South America and Africa.   Some of them had to learn the IPA system  and they are puzzled when they find some different pronunciaton schemes in US dictionaries.     Use the NY Times pronunciation guide (searchable online) and show the comparisons to backwards C, upside down V, AE squooshed together and the large and small “i” symbols...

9.  Bring something physical into the class everyday.  put it on the table and start talking.
Clip articles from the newspaper, distribute them, ask each student to present the “main idea” and describe the “big news” in their countries.   

Ask students to present videos from youtube or photos of their cities or their country.  “Tell us about a fabulous museum in your country.”

10.  Get on facebook and orkut with the students.   Some students will send you homework to check if they can do it through facebook.  they just don’t want to bother going to their email account.

11.  bring a camera into class or ask the school to provide a camera.  use the camera to record five minutes of your lesson and post the lesson on youtube for your class to review for homework.   It’s a good way for absent students to catch up and you can add a secret sentence at the end of the video so that ALL students will need to watch the video in order to get the secret sentence.   Students who say the sentence int he class later in the week can get an extra point.

12.  Keep in mind -- we don’t want to add to the costs of the school and we want to have fun.   Do not bring confetti into the classroom.   it might be fun for the students, but it costs extra to clean it up.

13.  bring a wet towel and remove dust around the room.  Our cleaning staff is short so they miss some of the taller horizontal edges (the venetian blinds are usually dusty) and they are in a hurry so thye might forget to remove the dry erase particples from the f=tray at the bottom of the white board.

14.  field trips are essential.   Asking people to sit still, sit in one place for 100 miutes invites stagnation of the blood and only the mobile teacher, who walks around the room.

15.  do not sit.   Some students learn by watching someone or something that is moving.   Teach to all students equally and differently.   Other students learn by reading, so when you introduce a new word, put it on the board with a missing letter.   We are talking about vegetables   T _MAT__   it’s red,  yes, you are right.  how do we write TWO of these red vegetables?   Oh, you are right it is a fruit...

16.  Writing is practiced outside class by asking the students to write to the teacher.  The writing is corrected by printing the emails and bringing them to class the next day. 

17.  Reading is practiced by asking students to bring to class an article or something from Internet or magazine.

18.  Old magazines are used to find articles and photos that the studnets can talk about.  A good test of vocabulary and to help you find the SWISS CHEESE ENGLISH (the gaps) is “open this magazine and talk about one of the photos.”  The student can’t cheat, can’t copy another student, and the presentations will be different so that the students who are listening can also participate (by asking questions).  The evaluation is transferred fro the video camera to a DVD and becomes a record of the students’ participation in the class.  It can be reviewed a year or six months later and the student can see how much they have learned.

19.  Listening is improved by using THIS I BELIEVE on npr.org and ESL-Lab.com with dialogs and scripts.   The spelling practice comes by using those sites (as outside work) to practice dictations, if the student demands dictations.

20.   Speaking practice goes by telephone.  If the teacher does not want to be disturbed outside class by the studnets, then the following phone number can be given out   954 646 8246   or 954 OH-MUCHO.   The students are encouraged to leave a message if there is no answer and to talk freely for at least a minute while the teacher who answers the phone tries to interrupt.  Telephone Enlgihs includes spelling the name of a street over the phone using Army Alphabet, such as L London, A apple, S sam, O Orlando, L London, A apple, S Sam.  

21.  A smart board simulator can be set up.  It costs $500 for a projector and uses a white board, a computer and dry erase markers   ....   

22.  Teachers are encouraged to give homework by telling students to “do more” in their free time ... if students don’t have access to LanguageAcademyFlorida.com (click on “Excellent Sites” for homework), then the items can be printed for the student.

23.  If you don’t have Internet in your classroom, download videos from Youtube using zamzar.com (see a teacher for tips on using Zamzar) and present those videos to the class.   DVDs are available, too.  Encourage students to bring their computers to class and use the computers to stimulate conversations and pairwork.

24.  Ask each 

25.  Keep a sheet on eachstudent and mark the number of questions that they ask.   Give points for "new words brought into the class" and "questions" and "interruptions."  Does the student 

Use a guideline assessment form  >>>>>>>>>  

26.  If you are attending a free movie at Cinema Paradiso, tell the students about it.  They will enjoy being invited to join you... then at the gathering you can sit with your spouse and the students can sit by themselves... they will be happy to meet local people.   

27.  If you tutor local U.S. students, ask the international students to come with you.   The local US studnets need to meet people from other cultrues and the international students can help with tutoring math and get new vocabulary.

28.  invite local peple to come to class and ask your international stuents to interview the visitor.   This promotes SWISS CHEESE ENGLISH and the teacher writes the errors on the board (to discuss after the visitor has left).

29.  Keep a log of the activities in the class so that at the end of the week the students can review what happened during the week.   This will rebuild lost synapses in the brain.

30.  Recycle verbs and vocabulary.   Bring in words form the previous weeks.   Don't focus ONLY on the words learned in class this week.  Ask students to look into their notes and go to the board and present some information that is difficult to them.   What have you forgotten?   Oh,yes, there are two words  Stationary and Stationery.         here is how to remember when to use A like STAND or E like LETTER.

What are the parts of a car?   Ask students to draw an item and then label the parts.   Good pair work.

This list is intended as a guideline for new teachers and for teachers who come to TLA from other schools.   During the summer we increase our school size and we want temporary teachers to adapt and use these principles.  We hope that they will use these principles when they return to their schools to teach English Lit or math or history or whatever.


Tips for teachers who want to use Social Media for additional interactions...

Some of these tips came from Jair da Silva, Dennis Yuzenas, Will Sutherland, George Schiano, Jeff Hutt, Amy Yuzenas, Duncan Maxwell, David Rhodes,  Tony Hyde, John Cross, Clive Hartwell, Dennis Littky, Thomas Friedman, Dan Pink, Malcolm Gladwell, Sari, Pascal Pesce, Eric Brown, Leslie Lott, Pat Harris, Bobby Henry, Karen Procelli, Jack Latona, J Kayman, Forester Institute in Costa Rica, Tony Lloyd and Cary Elcome.


See the answer below....

one of my students wrote to me and I proposed this remedy to reduce stress about not going to the afternoon class

Begin forwarded message:

Reply-To: Reply to Comment <c+22yc3ic000zg3nnn06n2s0017bliuuwhe000zg3nnn06n0000009peajt1ic1i@reply.facebook.com>
Jessica posted something on your Wall and wrote:

"Hi Steve, sorry!!. I'll go some day, I'll promise you."

Reply to this email to comment on this post.

Hello, Jessica... 

I believe there are many ways to learn English.   You can learn in a classroom.

You can learn from your children (who might speak better English than you do)

You can learn when you volunteer in a school from other parents  -- there is an opportunity for you to volunteer at Sunland Park Elementary School on June 3, if you wish to try it.  You need to complete a volunteer registration form, and I can show you how to do this.

Please remove "I'm sorry" from your communications with me.   I am happy to adapt to your situation.  I want you to have the benefit of my conversation class, but if you can't attend the class, you can look at exercises on the Internet and you can participate by using the videos or by using facebook.

Here are some conversation ideas
1)  Call 954 646 8246 and talk with the teacher for 3 minutes.   That will be a good start
2)  Bring your child to the 7th Street Wine Company on Friday or Saturday 6:30 to 8 pm.   One of my students, Wagner, told me that "Three hours talking non-stop in that group on Friday Night was equal to the speaking practice in the school for one week."   
3)  Write a list of words that you want to use in your language and then get translations of these words into English.   Write complete sentences:  "Get our of here.   What are you doing?   I think it's a good idea to try something new.   But please finish your broccoli because we don't want to waste food."

4)  you can practice conversation by finding a teacher during the 10:45-11 am break and try to ask the teacher a question.   you can introduce yourself to a new student and say, "Welcome to TLA.  If you have any questions you can ask one of the older students, the students who have been here several  weeks."

I hope these suggestions give you some ideas.   You are my virtual facebook student and I never want you to say "Im sorry" again.  I can tell that you take good care of your child and I hope you will bring your child to school so we can practice irregular verbs with your baby... well, not "Did you throw her baby?   Yes, I thr___w her baby."   but we can use the baby --- "What did the baby eat yesterday?   The baby ____ a sandwich.   A sandwich was ea_____n by the baby yesterday."